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What is 2 G-Spectrum Scam?
What is the part played by Mr.A.Raja belonging to DMK party, a major ally in the United Progressive Alliance headed by the All India Congress Party?
Will the Indian Judiciary take action against the wrong-doers in the ‘Spectrum Scam’ ?
The above are some of the many more questions in the minds of common Indians.
The people of India have seen many scams and frauds said to have been committed by Indian Politicians.
And they have seen many enquiries, arrests, court-cases etc. connected to political frauds causing heavy losses to the Government.
And in most of such enquiries and the cases in courts etc. the accused politicians used to come out without proper punishment/s.
At present ‘the 2 G Spectrum Scam’ is the hot case going on in Indian Political Stage.
Most of us know the following with reference to the “2 G-Spectrum Scam”.
However, let us have a brief review/recollection of the matter said to have caused a huge loss to India.
What is “2 G -Spectrum”?
2-G is the short form for “Second Generation” and 2-G Spectrum is the Wireless Telephone Technology for the use of Mobile Phones in India.
In the 2-G Spectrum-Mobile Phones:-
- Conservations are Digitally Encrypted,
- Will have More Penetration levels with more efficiency and
- Will have Data Services.
What is the 2-G- Spectrum Scam?
In the year 2008, the Telecom Ministry under Mr.A.Raja issued 122 Licenses of the 2 G Spectrum to 85 companies including many new Telecom Companies with little or no experience in the telecom sector, at a price set in the year 2001.
Compared to the year 2001 and the year 2008 the demands for Mobile Phones and the related services have increased by more than 20 times.
And such improper allocations of the 2G –Spectrum Technology has caused heavy loss to the Government of India.
The estimated loss is subject to confirmation by experts, as the figures given in the Audit Report are only on assumed values. The loss is said to be around Rs 60 000 crores.
And as per the CVC Report to CBI the losses are around Rs 22 000 crores.According to the Audit Report of ‘The Comptroller and Auditor General of India’, the Audit authority to the accounts and the activities of the Government of India, had pointed out in its Audit Report that:-
- The Process of allocation of the 2-G-Spectrum Licenses did not reflect the correct values,
- And there was no proper auction and
- The entire process of allocation was flawed
- And benefiting selected companies.
- Out of 122 Licenses issued 85 had been given to ineligible and inexperienced companies and
- The Telecom Ministry deviated its own guidelines and changed the cut-off date for applicants enabling some selected companies to get unfair advantage in getting the licenses and
- The entire process of allocation “lacked transparency and was undertaken in an arbitrary, unfair and inequitable manner”.
- Several companies got the 2G-Spectrum Licenses by: deliberately suppressing facts, disclosing incomplete information,submitting fictitious documents and using fraudulent means.
According to the Audit Report of the ‘CAG’ the following companies are ineligible for the 2G-Spectrum Licenses:-
- Units of Unitech Ltd which are not fulfilling the eligibility conditions including the required Share Capital, received licences in the year 2008 and now operates services in a joint venture with Norway’s Telenor.
- Loop Telecom,
- Videocon Telecommunications,
- S Tel Ltd.
- Swan Telecom, which has since been partly acquired by the UAE’s Etisalat , was given licences even though a unit of No. 2 telecoms firm Reliance Communications held over 10% of equity, a violation of rules.
The CAG Report has named 9 other operators including the following market leaders which were allotted spectrum beyond the contracted limit without paying any upfront charges, costing loss to the Government of India:
The explanations given by the Telecom Ministry to the ‘CAG’ were not satisfactory and the matter was handed over to CBI for further enquiry and action.
The Central Bureau of Investigations of India (CBI) being under the control of the Central Government of India and is called by the opposition political parties in India as “ The Congress Bureau of Investigations”.
So, the opposition parties have been demanding an enquiry by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), comprising Members of the Parliament belonging to various parties, including the ruling parties and the opposition parties.
The Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh was not ready for the enquiry by the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC). However, Dr.Singh was ready for an enquiry by the Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament (PAC).
The PAC will also be under the Central Government’s control and the opposition parties are against the PAC enquiry and have been insisting upon JPC enquiry on the “2-G Spectrum Scam”.
Mr.A.Raja belonging to DMK, was the Telecom-Minister responsible for the ‘2 G Spectrum’ allocations. Though Mr.Raja was telling that he had acted according to ‘TRAI’ rules and guidelines and whatever he had done in the matter was with the knowledge and concurrence of the Prime Minister.
Earlier, Mr.M.Karunanidhi, the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu, and the Chief of DMK, a major ally with the ‘United Progressive Alliance’ had been defending the actions of Mr.Raja. However, Mr.Karunanidhi abandoned his party-man and declared that his ‘Kazhagam’ will not support frauds causing loss to the Government of India. And subsequently Mr.Raja had to resign his post as the Minister of Telecom as advised by his party chief on 14th November 2010.Dr.Subramania Swamy had filed a petition in the Supreme Court of India seeking permission to sue the then Telecom Minister Mr.A.Raja in the ‘2G-Scam’.
And when his petition came for final hearing in the Supreme Court of India, Mr.Raja had already resigned. And Dr.Swamy did not require permission to file a suit against Mr.Raja in some other high court. However, the Supreme Court of India is continuing hearing of the case.
Also, the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) has also filed a petition in the Supreme Court of India in the 2G-Spectrum Scam, further to its petition in the Delhi High Court was dismissed.
The CPIL has prayed the Supreme Court of India to:-
- Call for the entire records, documents from CBI and ED regarding investigation into the 2G spectrum scam and
- Direct the CBI and ED to produce regular and periodic status reports in the matter of 2G spectrum scam investigations before The Supreme Court of India.
The Supreme Court has ordered the CBI to go into detailed enquiry in the Scam and continued to follow the matter closely.
The CBI was enquiring Mr.Raja and questioned him on 24th and 25th December 2010 and on 31st January 2011.
Mr.Raja was questioned in detail by CBI and documents were recovered and some computers were seized during the searches conducted at his premises by the CBI.
Mr.Raja was asked about his conversations with Mrs.Niira Radia, a Corporate Lobbyist and he was questioned about the pre-poning the cut-off date by one week for the Spectrum Application in the year 2007.
The CBI also questioned former Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chief Mr. Pradip Baijal and former Telecom Secretary Mr. D S Mathur in connection with the case.
And CBI has arrested Mr.Raja and his former Secretary Mr.R.K.Chandolia and the former Telecom Secretary Mr.Siddartha Behura on 02nd February 2011.
The following is a list of important dates and events from Mr.A.Raja taking over as Telecom Ministry to the arrest of Mr.Raja by CBI:-
– On 16th May 2007 Mr.A.Raja of DMK took over as Telecom Minister from Mr.Dayanidhi Maran.
– On 24th September 2007,DoT Press Release said that no applications under Unified Access Service(UAS) License will be accepted after 01st October 2007.
– On 25th October 2007 DoT ruled out auctioning of 2G –Spectrum for Mobiles.
– On 02nd November 2007, DoT decided and announced that applications received upto 25th September 2007 only will be processed.– On 02nd November 2007, the Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh wrote to DoT/ Mr.Raja, the Telecom Minister to have transparent auction methodology with revised entry fee as it was benchmarked on 2001 figures of Rs 1658 crores for pan India License.
– On 10th January 2008, applicants who applied on or before 25th September 2007 were asked to call on the Ministry to collect the letters.
– On 25th Januray 2008 new UAS Licenses were issued.– On 15th November 2008, the Central Vigilance Commissin (CVC) found lapses in the Spectrum allocation from its initial investigation and recommended for further action.
– On 31st May 2009, Telecom Portfolio was given again to Mr.A.Raja.
– On 21st and 22nd October 2009, CBI registered case in ‘2G-Spectrum Scam’ and made searches in DoT offices.
– On 06th September 2010, Mr.P.J.Thomas, the ex-Telecom Secretary was appointed as the Chief of CVC.
– On 17th October 2010, Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) indicted DoT with multiple violations in issuing the 2 G Licenses.
– On 19th October 2010, The Supreme Court of India pulled up the CBI for its ”slipshod” probe into the 2G scam costing the exchequer over Rs 70 000 crores, and wondered how and why the Union Telecom Minister Mr.A Raja, who allegedly allocated the spectrum to select firms flouting norms, was still in office.
– On 14th November 2010, Mr.A.Raja resigned his post as Telecom Minister, as the opposition parties rocked the Parliament’s functioning demanding his ouster.– On 15th November 2010, Mr.Kabil Sibal, HRD Minister took charge of DoT as additional charge
– On 16th November 2010, the CAG talbed its Audit Report on the 2G Spectrum Scam, indicting Mr.A.Raja, for causing ‘presumptive’ loss to exchequer ranging from Rs 57000 Crores to Rs 1 76 000 Crores in the Spectrum allocations.
– On 24th and 25th December and on 31st January 2011, CBI questioned Mr.A.Raja on the scam.
– On 01st Februray 2011, the one-man Panel(set up to examine the procedures for awarding 2G Licenses between 2001 and 2009) submitted its 150 pages with about 1300 pages of annexures report to the Union Telecom Minister Mr.Kapil Sibal. The panel report has named Mr.A.Raja, the Ex-telecom Minister, Mr.Chandolia, his Personal Secretary and Mr.Behuria, the former Telecom Secretary for wrongdoings.
– On 02nd February 2011, Mr.A.Raja,the ex-Telecom Minister, Mr.R.K.Chandolia, his former Secretary and Mr.Siddartha Behura, the former Telecom Secretary were arrested by CBI.The Supreme Court of India has asked the CBI and the Enforcement -Directorate to submit status reports on their investigations into the 2G spectrum case by 10th February 2011, when the case will come up for further hearing.
As told by the Congress Party officials the arrest of Mr. A. Raja and others in the 2G spectrum allocation scam is a case of the ‘law taking its own course’.
As expressed by the leaders of the opposition parties the action of arrests are a ‘little too late’, but definitely better than never.However, we have to wait and see the further proceedings in the prosecution of the wrong doers.